Acoustic Underlay for Optimal Noise Reduction
Curious about how to soundproof a floor? If you’re considering installing new flooring in your home, you’ve likely learned floor underlayments are a critical part of the flooring structure. We use underlayment for floors to reduce the appearance of any minor imperfections in the subfloor, slightly soften the impact of footsteps, and help reduce the noise associated with those footsteps.
All floor underlayments will provide some noise reduction benefits, but if you’ve got people living below you, choosing a soundproof floor underlayment will help reduce sound transmission. This will keep the people below you happy and prevent you from having to walk on eggshells. Quality soundproof flooring underlayment is so important that if you live in multi-family housing, there’s a good chance it’s required.
Why Sound Reduction is Important
Not everyone understands the full importance of sound reduction, especially when it comes to soundproofing floors. Sure, noise can be annoying, but it can also negatively affect our health when we’re exposed to it too often.
Chronic exposure to airborne noise has been shown to have a number of negative effects on cognitive functions. Noise makes it harder to focus, negatively impacts mood and memory, and can cause stress that leads to all kinds of negative health effects. Reducing the amount of unwanted noise in your home and office will go a long way in keeping you and your family happy and healthy.
What is Underlayment?
If you’re going to install new flooring in your home or office, the use of an acoustic underlayment is going to be a requirement of the building code. Like carpet padding, underlayments are sandwiched between the subfloor and the top layer of flooring.
An underlayment makes the existing floor more comfortable to walk on, reduces some of the noise created when our footsteps hit the floor, levels and hides any imperfections present in the subfloor, and even protects against drafts and heat loss. If you choose the right product, it can provide vastly upgraded sound and thermal benefits. Here’s how to choose the right underlayment to deliver those benefits.
How Soundproof Floor Underlayment Works
The primary advantages we get by installing a soundproof flooring underlayment are reductions in impact noise, prevention of noise transmission to the spaces below, and keeping heat and AC from passing through floors and ceilings. There are a number of ways a quality underlayment accomplishes these things.
Reduces Impact Sounds
One of the first things you’ll notice when you install soundproof floor underlayment is that the impact sounds created by people walking and moving things around will be far less prevalent. Simple airborne sounds are easily controlled with things like fabric wrapped sound absorbing panels and heavy acoustical curtains, but an impact sound from the floor comes with added variables that require a slightly different solution.
Floor underlayments add a little give to hard floor surfaces, reducing the amount of vibrations that pass into the floor. This reduces the amount of impact sound. It’s almost like turning down the volume knob on your footsteps rather than just absorbing them after the fact.
In addition to reducing impact sounds, soundproof floor underlayment also delivers sound dampening characteristics to your floors. Sound dampening, or sound damping, is the process of transforming vibrational energy into heat energy. Adding damping materials allows us to absorb the vibrations that would otherwise transfer from the top layer of flooring through the subfloor and into the joists and studs. It reduces unwanted noise for the people living below and makes our living spaces sound more pleasant in general.
Blocks Airborne Noise
Since floor soundproofing underlayments are constructed of high density materials, they provide the same barrier to airborne sound as they do for impact sound. The same principle may also apply to how to soundproof a door. Acoustical underlayments add enough mass and density to keep the sounds of music, television, and conversation from disturbing those downstairs. If floor noise reduction is important to you, choosing a soundproof floor underlayment is a simple and affordable way to add comfort to the whole house.
Provides Thermal Insulation
A good acoustic underlayment will also provide thermal insulation for the room. The dense, fibrous materials that make up floor soundproofing materials are also great insulators against heat transfer. Roll your underlayment out so it covers any gaps in the subfloor, and you’ll keep your AC and heat where they belong.
What Kind of Soundproof Floor Underlayment Works Best?
Now that we’ve covered the basics of how soundproof floor underlayment products work, it’s time to figure out which type is best for your acoustic treatment application.
If you’re working on a new bathroom or mud room floor, there’s a good chance you’ll be dealing with some water on the floor from time to time. These applications require something that’s resistant to moisture and mildew. If you’re putting new hardwoods in the living room, you can get by with a wider variety of options. If you’re installing carpeting, you’ll want to choose something that creates comfortable padding. All these considerations may make it seem like you’ll be searching through an endless array of soundproofing material options. That doesn’t have to be the case.
In the world of soundproof floor underlayments, there is one type that definitely stands above the rest. Recycled rubber underlayments outperform most other types of underlayment, and its versatility makes it a natural choice for nearly every room in the house. Let’s look at some of the benefits associated with recycled rubber soundproof floor underlayments.
It’s a green solution
One of the best soundproof underlayment materials on the market today is the type made of recycled rubber, which is most often made from used tires. It’s dense, durable, and the supply chain keeps tons of materials from ending up in the landfill. In addition to being a very green choice that may qualify you for environmental tax credits, rubber is also one of the best sound deadening materials you can buy for your floors.
Recycled rubber underlayments work well with most flooring types, from tile to hardwoods, and can even be used as a great carpet underlay. It’s an economical choice because there’s no need to purchase different materials for different rooms.
Rubber underlays do tend to stain vinyl flooring products, however, so they are not recommended in that case. If you are installing vinyl flooring, a great alternative material is recycled fiber. It’s another green solution that does a good job of noise reduction in flooring, and it won’t stain your new vinyl.
Mold and Mildew Resistant
If your floor is likely to encounter any kind of moisture, it’s important that your acoustic underlay is capable of standing up to that moisture and resisting any mold or mildew growth. Rubber underlays perform exceptionally well in the areas of the home or office that can get wet, such as mud rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.
The number one rule of thumb when soundproofing any space is to add density to your walls, ceilings, and floors. Recycled rubber adds more density than nearly all the other options on the market, making it more effective at sound reduction. Since the main goal when installing a soundproof floor underlayment is to keep airborne or impact sound from passing through to the lower levels, this aspect is the cherry on top that truly sets recycled rubber above the others.
All the benefits in the world don’t mean a thing if you can’t afford it. Luckily, recycled rubber is an incredibly cost effective solution to floor noise. Sourcing materials from old tires is both very green, and the abundant supply of materials keeps the cost down when compared to other materials. Not only will you feel good about using such an environmentally friendly product, but the fact that you’ll easily afford quality soundproof floor underlayments for each room in the house will leave you with a much more serene space.
The Best Underlayment Depends on Flooring Materials
When it comes to optimizing room acoustics, the type of soundproof acoustic floor underlayment we ultimately choose comes down to the flooring material we choose. Luckily, recycled rubber is a great choice for most types of flooring, whether you’re using it under your hardwood floor, or as a soundproof carpet pad underlay.
If you want to be sure you’re choosing the best materials for your acoustic flooring application, it’s always helpful to enlist the help of the pros. They can ensure you get the most out of your soundproofing endeavor, and make the entire process a whole lot easier.